Back in 2008, the Indy spoke to local artist Ellen O'Brien for her retrospective at Cucuru Gallery Café. Then 85, O'Brien shared her memories of earning her masters in fine arts, studying in Europe under Futurist artist Fernand Léger, and coming to Colorado Springs and the Broadmoor Art Academy.
(While in Europe, O'Brien also had a close encounter with Picasso, when he swept through an event she was attending. She recalls he was quite round and barrel-chested, and even though he was there for a short time, his energy charged the room.)
O'Brien's new show, which opens Friday night and runs through Jan. 22, is another comprehensive look at her career, spanning 70 or so works, which range in age from 65 years old to some just completed. This collection includes O'Brien's first landscape, this little charming watercolor:
There are also paintings of her apartments in Paris and in the Springs, on 112 E. Dale St.:
Retrospective 2 has been in the works for about two years now, due to the help of Ceil Horowitz, a longtime friend of O'Brien's and an accomplished local artist as well. Pulling this show together from O'Brien's own collection, Horowitz says, is "a labor of love and an honor."
When I visit, Horowitz guides me through the gallery, where O'Brien and her sons are working to hang the show. Horowitz points out O'Brien's superior technical skills, first and foremost her linework. Even a pastel drawing of a sofa and coffee table is notable for O'Brien's straight, definite and confident lines.
No matter what the media, or the subject, O'Brien excels at each. Lithographs and etchings share her handle on form and keen eye for design, which adds a signature flourish to each work.
These works are for sale as well. If you can, buy. They're destined for museums.